THE WORLD OF FUNGI
Guest article by Aron McNicholas
Gourmet and medicinal mushrooms are suddenly the new craze, but their usage dates to paleolithic times. The first archaeological record of probable mushroom use is from cave paintings back 5000 years B.C. What we know from ancient remains is that primitive civilization used mushrooms to start fires, treat wounds, enrich the immune system, and aid in spiritual insights.
Today, mushrooms have just as much importance. To begin with, they are the great remediators of the forest, helping to clean up toxins, add nutrients to topsoil, and decompose dead material. Secondly, mushrooms have many beneficial implications for our health when consumed. They upregulate Th1 cells (the ones you need to fight pathogens), downregulate Th2 cells (cells implicated in allergies), and increase many different types of white blood cells. Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) has interesting research concerning Alzheimers and dementia, given its ability to increase the myelination of axons. Reishi (Ganoderma spp.) is often used by herbalist for its calming effect and bitter stimulation of the liver. Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor) is a source of polysaccharide krestin (PSK), which anti-cancer drugs are developed from.
When selecting mushrooms, try to find sources grown organically and away from environmental toxins. Ask producers how the mushrooms are being grown, what parts are being used, and how they are preparing their supplements. If interested in more information, investigate the work of Paul Stamets or consider reading The Fungal Pharmacy by Robert Rogers.
This month, keep an eye out for a new line of herbal tinctures and tea blends. Hartwood Herbals will be providing a mixture of herb, mushroom, and glycerite tinctures, the majority of which are wildcrafted here in the Midwest. Custom herbal compounds will also be offered for clients wishing to have a more individualized approach. If interested in more information, feel free to ask a Natural Living associate or contact Aron McNicholas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Aron McNicholas is a Community Herbalist and Functional Medicine Practitioner. He began studying herbalism in Greencastle IN with herbalist Constance Ferry. Afterwards, Aron traveled to Ithaca NY to study with the clinical herbalist 7Song, who runs the Northeast School of Botanical Medicine. Currently, Aron is finishing his Master’s Program at the University of Western States in Nutrition/Functional Medicine.)